Attending the School of Theatre and Dance means joining a professional family of experienced and dedicated faculty, alumni and friends who are leaders in the arts and entertainment industries. Our alumni are a powerful resource and include regionally and nationally recognized actors and designers such as Emmy Award winner Jeff Richmond, Tony Award winner Alice Ripley, Dylan Ratell (Chicago the Musical), Sabatino Verlezza (RIOULT Dance NY), Kaitlyn Black (Hart of Dixie), Nina Price (Garth Fagan Dance) and costume designer Kristine Haag (Scandal, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). 

Discover Alumni Success Stories

Notable Alumni

Kaitlyn Black (2005)

Actress Kaitlyn Black was most recently a series regular on the CW series Hart of Dixie, playing Annabeth Nass. Previously, Black has appeared in Cold Case, Floaters, Enlightened, and Raising Hope. Black has appeared in several Porthouse Theatre productions, such as Anything Goes and Chicago.



Steve Byrne (1996)

Steve Byrne is an innovative and sought-after performer whose semi-autobiographical series Sullivan & Son recently ended a 3 season run on TBS.  Byrne has performed stand up on Conan, The Tonight Show, The Late Late Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. He has also appeared on ABC's The Middle and was a series regular on NBC's The Real Wedding Crashers.


Antoinette Comer (2011)

Antoinette Comer graduated with a B.A. in Theatre from the School of Theatre and Dance in 2011. Most recently, she was a cast member in the Broadway production of "Mamma Mia!"


John de Lancie (1971)

Actor John de Lancie is best known for his portrayal of the character Q in several Star Trek franchises, most notably Star Trek: The Next Generation. He has also appeared in films and on television in Days of Our Lives, Stargate SG-1, Breaking Bad, and The West Wing. He also co-owns Alien Voices with Leonard Nimoy, a production company devoted to producing radio-style dramatizations of classic science fiction.


Kristine N. Haag (BFA 2003)

Kristine N. Haag earned her undergraduate degree from the School of Theatre and Dance and her graduate degree in costume design from the University of California Irvine. Most recently, Haag has worked as Key Costumer and as an Assistant Costume Designer on ABC's Scandal and as the Key Costume Buyer on the upcoming feature film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Additionally, Haag has worked in the costume and wardrobe departments in The CW's 90210, HBO's Big Love, the feature film TRON: Legacy, HBO's True Blood, and AMC's Mad Men.  

Ken Howard (MFA 1999)

The late Tony and Emmy Award winning actor Ken Howard currently served as the President of SAG/AFTRA and had an extensive career on the stage and screen.  Howard appeared on Broadway in Promises, Promises; 1776; Child's Play; Seesaw; and Rumors. Howard's film and television credits included 1776, Clear and Present Danger, The Net, At First Sight, Michael Clayton, J. Edgar, Grey Gardens, Murder She Wrote and Crossing Jordan. Howard was the inspiration for Kent State's Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting for the Returning Professional. 

Megan Morse Jans (BFA 2002)

Megan Morse Jans has danced professionally for Ground Zero Dance Company, Tommy Parlon Dance Projects, Air Dance Bernasconi and she spent three seasons with award winning BosmaDance. Megan is the Artistic Director of DragonFly Dance Experiment and is on the faculty at Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland.

Mark LaMura (MFA 2000)

Emmy Award nominated actor known for his work on All My Children, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Diagnosis Murder, Matlock, and As the World Turns. LaMura also starred as Pharaoh on the national tour of Aida

Jenita McGowan (BFA)

Jenita McGowan graduated from Kent State with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance. In 2012, she became the city of Cleveland's Chief of Sustainability.

John Moauro (BFA 2007)

John Moauro graduated in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. In 2008, Moauro joined the off-Broadway cast of Hair being performed as part of Shakespeare in the Park. Earning rave reviews, the revival of Hair moved to Broadway in January 2009 and was nominated for 8 Tony Awards. The production won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Moauro also performed in the tour of the production following its Broadway run. Recently, Moauro has directed several performances at New York's 54 Below including a performance in March 2015 featuring Kent State students and alumni.

Christopher Niess (MFA 2000)

Christopher Niess earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Kent State's School of Theatre and Dance. He is Associate Professor of Acting, Movement and Dance at the University of Central Florida and became the Chair/Artistic Director of UCF's Theatre Department in 2009. An accomplished actor and choreographer, Niess has appeared and worked in many venues including the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, the Cleveland Play House, and the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival.

Tracee Patterson (MFA 2013)

A Cleveland area actress, Tracee Patterson recently appeared in Great Lakes Theater's production of Deathtrap. She also returned to Kent State in April 2014 to appear as Mrs. Bennet in the Roe Green Visiting Director Series production of Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joseph Hanreddy. 

Watch WKYC Feature on Tracee Patterson

Jeff Richmond (1985)

An Ohio native, Jeff Richmond began his career at Chicago's Second City and Child's Play Touring Theatre. He is best known for his work as a composer, producer, and director. Richmond composed music for Saturday Night Live until 2006 when he became producer and composer on NBC's 30 Rock which was created by and starred his wife Tina Fey. He also appeared in and directed several 30 Rock episodes and composed the score of the feature film Baby Mama. He is producing the upcoming Universal Picture's feature film Sisters and is the executive producer and composer on the new hit Netflix series Unbreakabel Kimmy Schmidt. Richmond was the speaker at Kent State's 2013 Commencement ceremony. 

Alice Ripley (BFA 1985)

Alice Ripley is a Tony Award winning actress and performing artist. She has appeared on Broadway in The Who's Tommy, Sunset Boulevard, King David, Side Show, Les Miserables, James Joyce's The Dead, The Rocky Horror Show, and Next to Normal. Ripley was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Side Show and won the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for 2009's Next to Normal. She also appeared in the national tours of Les Miserables and Next to Normal and is also the recipient of a Helen Hayes Award and a numerous Helen Hayes and Drama Desk nominee. Alice Ripley visited Kent State in 2010.



Sabatino Verlezza (BFA 2012)

Sabatino Verlezza graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance in 2012. In 2012, Verlezza joined the company of RIOULT Dance NY as an Apprentice and became a fully company member in 2014. Since joining RIOULT Dance NY, Sabatino has travelled nationally and internationally with the dance company. Photo of Sabatino performing with RIOULT Dance NY by Sofia Negron.

Read a profile of Sabatino Verlezza in aroundKent Magazine

Laura Beth Wells (MFA 1999)

Laura Beth Wells graduated from the Master of Fine Arts in Acting program in 1999. She starred as Emily Osborne (Norman Osborne/Green Goblin's wife) in Broadway's Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark from 2011 through the close of the show's run in 2014.

Ray Wise (1969)

Originally from Akron, actor Ray Wise is a familiar face in film and television. He is best known for his role as Leland Palmer on the series Twin Peaks and his role in the film RoboCop. He has appeared in films such as The Chase, Good Night and Good Luck, and X-Men: First Class. He has appeared on television in How I Met Your Mother, Rizzoli & Isles, Psych, Mad Men, Criminal Minds, NCIS, 24, and Dallas.